Should I Add Manure When I Winterize My Garden?


I’m trying to winterize my garden. Should I add manure or other nutrients to shrubs and perennials, or just mulch?

No manure. You don’t want to encourage new growth in late autumn. Maybe a layer of compost will help compacted soil – and then just mulch. In some perennials (salvia, asters) you will want to find basal leaf growth. Late autumn is also still an OK time to plant new perennials. The soil has a good deal of warmth before freezing weather arrives, so roots can get established.

After it bloomed in July, I saved black seed pods from the crooks of my tiger lily’s leaves. How do I plant them to speed up their germination?

Find detailed instructions online. They tell you to crack the pods open and retrieve the seeds inside. Plant them together, flat, in a folded moist paper towel at 70 F for several weeks. Transfer the folded towel in a plastic bag to a refrigerator or cool (40 F) place for three or more months. Then plant in a moistened planting mix until a shoot appears. It will then take years for the shoot to grow a viable bulb. Buying bulbs and planting them now or next spring will be easier, faster and far better.

This year I had huge problems with tall flowers flopping over. I could not prop up my Japanese anemones, foxgloves, New England asters. I even failed to cut them back before they took off – and fell.

This spring was unusually cool and wet. Trees, shrubs and flowers took off. Then the summer sun blasted – and lasted ‒ hot and dry for months. If we were around to water, everything grew again, exponentially. The only defense against the resultant flopping was to have already installed things like this crisscross support circle. You had to install them while the plants were quite low – before you had a clue how wet, sunny and hot the summer was going to become. We were all preoccupied the whole time with the Delta variant corona virus, worry, medical appointments – everything. Happy plants that fell over were the least of this year’s woes.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club was started in 1952. Activities include tours, garden therapy, plant sales, special events, speakers and workshops. The club meets the second Tuesday of the month, but in most of 2020 and 2021, meetings were held on Zoom. The October meeting featured an out-of-doors guided tour of the Franciscan Monastery Gardens in Northeast DC on Sunday, Oct. 17. For members, the December meeting involves supper while making holiday greens decorations. The club is accepting new members. Dues are $50/year. Meetings are free and open to all. Visit the Capitol Hill Garden Club website with membership and meeting inquiries,